Online personal attacks are easy to deal with. Simply apply the question, “True or false?” Is this true? Does it apply to me? Or not?
If, no, easy-peasy. If, yes, well, you’ve got work to do. The most interesting response is, “I don’t know,” or even an ambivalent, “Um…” both of which are more common than you think.
To me, if a troll writes, “You’re a big fat ugly bitch and whore!” on someone’s web site and the owner goes, “I don’t know,” or worse, “What if it’s true?” to the true-or-false test, alarm bells go off, screaming, “Dangerously low self-esteem!”
There should be alarm bells going off for you too, if you can’t shrug off troll attacks.
What people write about you has absolutely nothing to do with you.
Their words always say more about their own character, than they do yours.
“What if others believe them?” is the most common fear.
Nasty personal attacks, heck, even silkily couched personal attacks, are obvious. You don’t need to be a professor in psychology.
Anyone who decides to treat such comments as fact, without knowing you personally AND coming to you directly for verification, is not worth worrying about, or even knowing.
Actions, or lack thereof, speak volumes about a person’s character.
Thank the trolls! They’re helping you sort the shit people from the good people you want in your life.
How about lies? Blatant untruths written in prominent sites, far from your sphere of awareness and control, with an audience of hundreds, if not thousands, of gullible, idle gossipmongers?
Same rules. True or false?
You can’t control what people write about you.
You can’t control what people believe about you.
I’m not saying it won’t hurt. Yes, it will. For a day or two, maybe a week, ideally less. But it shouldn’t come close to destroying you or driving you to suicide.
If it does, my friend, it’s not the trolls who have a problem, you do.
The trolls have merely triggered one or many severe psychological and emotional wounds in you that need to be faced and resolved, and those are what’s killing you. Not the trolls.
Genuine friends and supporters will never, ever number in the hundreds or thousands. You’d have to be extremely lucky to get into the tens.
There will only ever be a small, if not tiny, handful of people who truly know, honour, cherish and love you for who you truly are, as you are, warts and all.
These are the people who matter most. Focus on them!
Then there is your tribe. Focus on them!
These are the people who matter a billion times more than any troll and they deserve your gratitude, time and attention.
Invest your resources on those who matter, who make a difference in your life.
Don’t squander and waste on those who only seek to destroy you.
The age of the Internet should be renamed the age of the troll, for online anonymity has done more to feed the raging emptiness of the hateful lost than any other modern invention.
Today, the more you rise from the rank and file of the faceless anonymous to becoming a person—an actual person! With a name, a face and a story to tell!—with something to give, the more you will attract the attention of the hateful lost, for they hate their lives and existence even more than they claim to hate you.
That is why they believe they stand to gain from channelling hate and malice towards people they don’t know, or even care to know.
One way of telling if you are vulnerable to trolls is to read trolling comments in other web sites. Plenty to be found in online newspapers.
Read and observe your emotional reactions. Any disempowering emotional reaction at reading spiteful comments not directed at you is an indication of susceptibility. Take note of your reactions and examine why. Some part(s) of your psyche identified with the comments. You need to identify it/them.
Reading comments directed at others will only work to a point. Sooner or later, the ultimate test and best training ground is to deal with your own.
If you’re a relatively new blogger with few comments, you get to start out nice and slow.
If, however, you are already dealing with trolls and are struggling emotionally, I recommend the complete opposite course of action—back off and switch off. Do not engage.
Susceptibility doesn’t make trolling comments true. What it does mean is you have unresolved psychological and emotional patterns that cause you to erroneously interpret and accept such comments as true, when they are not. Reality distortion on a psychological level.
You may need professional help. I say this because it is fact that several people, adults and children alike, have already committed suicide as a result of trolling. There is help. Utilise it.
In past iterations of my blog where I did get unpleasant comments, some nasty, I’ve always chosen to respond kindly, lightly and jovially, though usually very briefly.
At the time, it was a discipline for me. It is far too easy to respond to spite in kind, and far more difficult to stop, pull back and examine my reasons for desiring to retaliate, reframe my experience and return with a compassionate and constructive focus. Therefore, it made good practice.
Having said that, I’ve never faced bona-fide trolls, so I can’t say if this will be a practical response. I doubt so, especially en-masse. It would be a waste of time and energy.
Ideally, never respond to a troll, and most definitely never as a direct reply. Nothing you say will improve the situation, or change their mind.
Some bloggers have responded to trolls indirectly in their writing. If you choose to do that, don’t do it out of anger, vindictiveness or worst of all, self-defence. As The Producers sang, “Keep it light! Keep it bright! Keep it gay!”
Don’t sink to the depths of anger and hate that trolls wallow in. Won’t help you and definitely won’t help your readers!
Words have power. To kill. To heal.
However you have even greater powers—to transmute, to reframe. To understand, to empathise. To forgive.
Remember that the only people who can willingly choose to inflict such hurt on others, have themselves been grievously hurt. We have all hurt others with our words when we ourselves were wounded.
Every time you feel tempted to hate and dehumanise trolls for what they have done, realise that you are taking the very same steps they did to end up where they are today.
It is too easy to hate in return. Be better than that.